With the guardian statue defeated, our valiant heroes were free to continue there explorations of the hidden caves, which turned out to be an abandoned Dwarven gold mine, in search of the missing villagers.
Heroics would need to wait though, for the bold and noble adventurers soon found something much more important: a seam of gold! Grabbing a rusted pickaxe, the mighty Saqqua led the team in an impromptu mining effort. Unfortunately, no one involved had any relevant experience or training, and mining is a rather more difficult profession than looting the corpses of biologically improbable species, so it wasn't long before they brought down a cave in on their heads.
No serious harm was done, but the noise attracted unwanted attention, and the crew were soon confronted by a patrol of hideous fishmen spawned from a cheap imitation of an H P Lovecaft story. A tense confrontation followed as the fishmen angrily demanded the surrender of the party. Jethro, proving oce again that his magical ability greatly outweighed his common sense, attempted to read the minds of these alien beings, and picked up a few useful pieces of information. It seemed that the fishmen had been kidnapping the villagers in preparation for a hideous ritual of transformation which would turn them into more fishmen, and that the awful creatures served an even viler being they thought of only as "The Master". The party naturally assumed that The Master was an aboleth, because every adventurer knows every creature in the monster manual, whether or not they have any plausible way to possess such knowledge.
Unfortunately, the strain of immersing himself im the alien minds of the mutants proved too much for Jethro, who fell unconscious in the middle of negotiations. Assuming treachery, Saqqua and Urzogg charged the fishmen, defeating them after a brutal and deadly battle in which the empowered weapons of the civilized races proved barely a match for the sinister armaments of the lovecraftian abyss below the earth.
This battle attracted yet more attention, but this time of a friendlier sort: An earth elemental named Ground materialized from the walls to (very slowly) beseech the parties aid against his foe, a vicious and evil water elemental dwelling deeper in the mines. Though initially skeptical, the party was soon won over by Grounds ability to create large chunks of gold, and gladly accepted the quest.
The dangers of the drowned mines were many: Fishman guards, swarms of centipedes, and unstable walls all threatened to undo the heroes, but each hazard was avoided or overcome until the heroes reached the lair of the water elemental, where they found their most deadly foe yet. A swirling vortex of water, fueled by hatred and howling curses, towered over the unfortunate adventurers, and battle was joined with barely word of the usual posturing. Sweeping across the room in a matter of moments, the elemental submerged all three heroes within itself, quickly battering the mage and the gunslinger into submission.
Saqqua, the warrior of the party, was made of stronger stuff, and the creature soon spat him out to duel one on one. The two foes exchanged many blows, slowly wearing each other down until they were both inches from death. In the end, Saqquas heavy armor proved decisive, and his mighty warhammer was able at last to break through the enemies defenses and slay the elemental.
Observing his two unconscious comrades, Saqqua realized that further exploration was impossible. After collecting hiss reward from ground, he therefore set off for Meadowvale with his companions to rest and recuperate.
Alas, tragedy had struck once again, for by the time they arrived, Meadowvale was burning…
What had become of Meadowvale? Would the kidnapped villagers survive another day? What revenge might The Master exact for the death of his minions? And most importantly of all, when would the heroes find the time to buy bigger guns? Tune in next time to find out.